Just like humans, pigeons prefer a risky gamble with a high payoff over a low-risk, low-payoff opportunity, even if the latter pays off more over time. That's probably because, like us, pigeons mentally over-emphasize large winnings; this could be because bonanza winnings are memorable and striking, or because we have a poor mental grasp on probability and long-term payoff calculus. In either case, one could say that both pigeons and humans have a gambling problem.

However, Pattison et al. (2013) found that the environment in which a pigeon lives affects its interest in taking risky gambles. If pigeons were housed in social enclosures (a large cage with 3 other pigeons) for 4 hours per day, the pigeons were less likely to show problematic, sub-optimal gambling behaviour!

The conclusion is unsurprising and somewhat sad. If you are lonely and bored, you are more likely to develop a gambling problem, and perhaps a gambling addiction. Both could be staved off by social contact.

This lends empirical support to the age-old adage: friendship, like phosphorus, shines brightest when all around is dark.